Houston Rockets: Fertitta’s handling of employees begs many questions

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta has been in the limelight as of late for his handling of his employees. His strategy begs many questions out of many.

As we all know Houston Rockets’ faithful, the NBA season was unexpectedly postponed until further notice.

Although it’s very frustrating for the league as well as its fans, the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting more people around the world in more ways than I have ever witnessed.

The Rockets were finally starting to heat up right before the outbreak, and it seemed like they were doing everything they could on the court, it’s quite apparent that the team’s managerial side is doing quite the opposite off of it.

Many NBA players, as well as front office staff across the league, have stepped up in big ways that in spite of the absence of games inside their home arenas, they’re ensuring that they don’t leave their beloved coworkers behind without pay.

Players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo along with the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks’ roster as well as Zion Williamson and the entire Golden State Warriors’ cooperation, have all contributed to the cause of arena workers continuing to get paid.

The next step

This begs the question of what will Houston Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta — now worth more than $5.1 billion — and our superstars do?

Mind you, not only is Fertitta the sole owner of our beloved Houston Rockets, but he is also the owner of Landry’s Inc. which owns more than 600 hotels, casinos, and restaurants combined that employs more than 60,000 people.

His restaurants occupy a majority of space at Disney theme parks, which is an organization known for treating their employees right, being perennially featured on Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies annual list. Let me also remind you, back in 2017 when the NBA approved him to take over ownership for the Rockets he also implemented that the Toyota Center get Landry’s-brand eateries, making Landry’s one of the facility’s headlining restaurants.

Fertitta did put out a statement that his Landry’s employees in Houston including those at his Post Oak Hotel at Uptown would be let go without pay, which he soon retracted after the backlash he got from Houstonians.

It has also been said, but yet verified that the Toyota Center arena workers will “get taken care of” but no say as to in what way, or to what extent.

Time to investigate

So this led me to do some research of my own to see just exactly what our owner plans to do with all of his employees, and my findings are unbelievable to me but a thing of repetition for Mr. Fertitta.

I had the opportunity to speak with one of Mr. Fertitta’s long-time yet loyal employees — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — that work for one of his chains, found out that he retracted his statement about the Post Oak Hotel and gave those employees their benefits back through June.

She was thrilled to hear that from me.

However, the same story didn’t hold true for the thousands of other employees that he oversees. Herself, along with her fellow cohorts, have created a Facebook group together in hopes of getting answers from Fertitta himself in regard to their employment status for the coming months due to the epidemic.

With all of the hashtags on social media being created boycotting Fertitta and all of his corporations and all the constant backlash geared toward him, I had to find out what’s really going

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on with his employees and their pay from someone inside, and so far this is what was gathered:

The majority of Landry’s Inc. restaurant employees were shut out at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with closed doors and the workers have yet to receive a statement from him as to what exactly their fate is.

This same employee I spoke with said that many of them are being denied PTO and are being instructed to apply for unemployment. On top of that, they recently received what seems like one of their last checks and the money used for “employee meals” was taken out, with absolutely no way to receive any more of those said “meals.”

As for the others that have gone days with still no statement from the company, or Fertitta they crave any type of explanation and said: “We aren’t looking for handouts, we just want to make sure our jobs are secured.”

Moral to story

Although these are very trying times for everyone right now, a man that has published pieces on how to be a good businessman isn’t displaying the slightest regard to one in the wake of a catastrophic event that is affecting thousands of lives within his company.

It’s not a secret that even before this, Fertitta hasn’t been everyone’s favorite businessman, and has a reputation of being a greedy man, but the word of how he’s treating his employees is spreading like wildfire, and many have taken to social media to express their frustrations toward him.

One comment reads:

"“Tilman J. Fertitta I just cancelled my Houston Rockets lower bowl season tickets because I hear you’ve cut benefits to your employees at Post Oak Uptown. I don’t support billionaires that raise ticket prices yet won’t take care of their people. What a jerk.”"

I‘ve seen other comments that are along the lines of:

"“Shameful what you are doing to your employees in their time of need. Shame on you! I am a Landry’s Club member and swear I will NEVER patronize your establishments ever again. Disney Parks should end business with Landry’s Inc.”"

Those pointed words of chiding were just the tip of the iceberg in regard to what they had to say about our owner on Twitter.


With other owners doing so much for their team and employees, and the communities surrounding them, it’s hard to see our owner doing so little while he has the means to do so much.

Mr. Fertitta is losing fans not only in Houston, but across the globe, and while we are all experiencing rough times throughout the wake of the coronavirus, his employees are still awaiting something as simple a response.

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What’s the best way for Tilman to handle the situation that he’s put himself in?  Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s Web site or the Web site for your state’s Department of Health.